Friday, August 29, 2008

Canuck Book 4 - The Killing Circle by Andrew Pyper

Andrew Pyper writes thrillers. He lives in Toronto.

He is also one hell of a writer with the chops to write serious literary fiction if he so desires.

For better or worse, he doesn't seem to desire this. Which leaves him in a bit of a strange place. In contrast to someone like Margaret Atwood - who nimbly jumps from genre to literary and back like a skilled hopscotch player - he remains an unproven quantity in so called serious writing. From what I've been reading, this is causing some concern amongst the book critics. Now Magazine, for instance, basically spent their review of The Killing Circle urging Mr. Pyper to quit slumming.

Me? I don't really care. I love his writing, literary or not. Lost Girls, his first novel, was a revelation to me. Finally, here was a guilty pleasure that I didn't feel guilty about. A book that was smart and fun and a joy to read. It made me a fan.

I've stayed a fan. While I wasn't as blown away by the next two novels - The Trade Mission and The Wildfire Season - I liked them a lot.

As for The Killing Circle, I've been waiting anxiously for this one for a long time. A novel set in Toronto revolving around a writing circle where the members start turning up dead, I just knew it would be good.

It is. The details are great and the plot works well. There are ample twists and turns which I will not spoil for you. More than that, it's a thriller for book lovers and book geeks. The joys and perils (mostly perils - this is a thriller after all) of the written word come through on every page.

There is also some very pointed satire here as the writing circle rings all too true. Pyper does a great job of showing a city that seems to be more in love with writing than reading. Add to this the fact that the protagonist's career has slipped from book reviewing to tv show reviewing and you can see that, even in the midst of a dark plot, there are some great moments of humour.

What's left to say? Not much. This book is a winner, a break from the serious stuff (we like to say we read) that doesn't feel like a compromise.

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